About bendtnersbettercousin

Gooner born in 1982 from Harlow, Essex, with a love for Arsenal that knows. I'm not an AKb, nor am I an 'In Arsene we Rust', but I like to think that I can tip-toe between the two, occasionally veering into both camps.

High pressing to Mesut’s advantage? Dortmund preview

So apparently the footballing gods are testing Arsène’s ‘threadbare’ rule by conspiring to see how many of our defenders can be injured at any one time, before Arsène loses it and tells Stevie Bould to warm up with a green bib ahead of tonight’s trip to Dortmund.

Our first Champions League group stages appear to have coincided with a bout of plague that is ravaging our back line. Symptoms are varied in each case, but the upshot is that we are looking at definite absences of Debuchy and Monreal, whilst Chambers has picked up a knock but should be ok to play. With Arsène having gambled on having only six first team defenders for four positions, it appears as though normal service has been resumed with regards to his gambles falling flat on their faces.

Of course, the reality of the situation the team has tonight is that there is still a strong enough defence to call upon, with Gibbs returning to action and Chambers slotting in at right back. With Szczesny in the sticks behind them, it’s not as if we are short of first team experience, so my apparent serious concern above is a ‘little bit tongue in cheek’. I just hope we don’t pick up any more bumps or bruises this evening, because we can ill afford any more absences as the games come thick and fast.

As for our midfield, one would assume that Arteta will come in for Flamini, with Ramsey and Wilshere once again playing through the middle behind a front three of Özil, Sanchez and Welbeck. The latter two of that three performed well on Saturday, so I’m hoping that the former – a German international with quite some reputation – can draw on some German inspiration in his home nation. Mesut has been shunted wide in recent weeks and, whilst Arsène has been leaping to the defence of his most expensive bit of shopping, there must be part of him that realises that we need to get Özil into the centre as soon as possible. But with Walcott still a few weeks away and Wilshere having Messi’d the game at the weekend, it’s fairly obvious that he will start through the middle.

Our opponents this evening have their own injury worries too, so perhaps it is not just us that has the curse of the footballing gods to agonise over, as a number of first team players won’t be rocking up in yellow come 7.45pm. Reus, Hummels, Sahin, Gundogan and Blaszczykowski are all out, so it’s up to Shinji Kagawa to provide the creativity after returning to Dortmund from United in the summer. I remember seeing him against us the first time we were drawn against Dortmund; he was a handful throughout and one of the better players in both games. The question will be whether or not he has bedded back into his new-old team quickly enough, but I think he’s already scored for Dortmund, so I suspect we’ll see a decent performance from him tonight.

We know what test Dortmund will provide to us tonight, having played them for what feels like every season since their sustained return to the Champions League a few years ago. They will look to press us high and reduce the space we have to conduct our short tiki-taka passing style out from the back. But this is a different Arsenal team now. If you press us high up the pitch, it’s not just Theo Walcott or bust for us, so Dortmund will surely be wary of the lightning counter attack that we possess with Welbeck and Alexis. A high line would be delightful to see from my perspective, but surely that would be suicidal from Dortmund, so something has to give. For if they press high from the front, they will need to push their back four high too. Otherwise the space in between the back four and defence would be far too much.

If that does happen, that the back four of Dortmund sit deeper whilst the front players push higher, Mesut Özil has to be ready and up for it tonight. If he’s allowed to roam in that no-mans land between defence and midfield, it will afford him time rarely granted in the Premier League, so he’ll need to capitalise after a poor display against Moneychester City.

So the good news is that, in theory, we have different options to beat Dortmund, either through the pace against a high line, or the space of Özil and Rambo to operate in between the yellow and black defence and midfield. But one things for sure, however we look to overcome Dortmund, tactics alone won’t see us pick up all three points in the Westfalenstadion. We need good performances from nearly all of our players if we want to overcome the German runners up, which means no passengers like there were on Saturday. If we start well, take confidence from our unbeaten run so far, then catch Dortmund on the counter, I fancy some three pointage come 10pm this evening. The team is starting to gel and hopefully the positives from the weekend can be emphasised.

Come on you reds!

We wait on Debuchy; but not on Jack – why squad rotation is important

Morning friend, I hope you are well, recovering from the horrific prospect that after one game against a frankly awful QPR Man United are ‘back’ and ready to win every single game between now and the end of time? I’m certainly fearful of their awesomeness in every position. I mean, how will they ever concede again with the defensive solidity of Blackheart, Jones and Evans in their team? Football will become a boring repetition of 4-0 wins every week between now and the end of existence. Oh, woe is us, for life will never be the same!

Of course, the truth is a lot more palatable to stomach, which is that as the commentators on Sky Sports said yesterday that QPR were the perfect opponents to play at home after a series of poor results in the league. They were abysmal and I’d love to say that I can’t wait until they rock up at The Emirates, but you and I both know they’ll be disciplined, tough to break down and with a ‘keeper that decides to have the game of his life when we play them. It’s how things seem to happen in this universe.

The Arsenal chatter is understandably all about Mathieu Debuchy today, with the variation upon the theme being dependent on how long he will be out for, although the diagnosis from the journos appear to be that it’s ligament damage. Depending on who you believe there looks to be between two to three months out injured, which kind of figures, but there won’t be a better indication of the exact time for a few days I expect. Debuchy himself stated on his Facebook page that it was not a fracture and he was having further medical tests today, so I suspect it will be a pre or post match response from a prompt from Arsene that will give us an idea of his time on the sidelines.

If it does turn out to be about two months, it puts massive pressure on Chambers until December and with only Bellerin behind him in the pecking order, highlights just how ridiculous it is that Arsene has failed to fully address our overall options at cover in defence. There will be a lot of pressure on the first team defensive players and with our injury record even so far this season looking terrible (I think I saw somebody say that we have picked up an injury in every game this season or something crazy like that), you can almost certainly envisage a time in which we are down to Harry Redknappesque ‘bare bones’ between now and Christmas.

But let’s not get too caught up in the ‘what if’s at the moment, because there is the small matter of our opening Champions League game tomorrow night, a game in which we once again lock horns with Dortmund who themselves appear to have a bit of an injury crisis going on too. More on that tomorrow, but I’m just pleased the game has come ona Tuesday instead of a Wednesday, because I’m still not too sure whether or not I’m happy about a draw against the Champions on our own turf, as I mentioned yesterday. So the quicker I can put that result to the back of my mind the better.

One person who I’m sure will be starting will be Jack Wilshere and, with Arsene singing his praises about answering his critics, his performance on Saturday is exactly why I hope that we get better at using squad rotation this season. My view is that you can’t have the same 11 players playing the best football every game throughout the season. Footballers are human and are prone to off days, as Aaron Ramsey showed at the weekend, so for me it is important that you ensure that players are rotated enough so that they have enough game time under their belts to pick up where others are unable too, which is why seeing jack step up in the absence of a good performance from Ramsey, was so great to see. I love that Jack is one of ours, that he’s an Arsenal youth product and that he’s English, but if I’m honest I just want to see 11 players in an Arsenal shirt playing well and winning matches. That’s what counts and if that means that they all have to come from Venezuela, Bogotá or Singapore, I don’t really care as long as The Arsenal are on top.

So for me, the most important thing about Jack having that game is that we know that he can be relied on to take the game by the scruff of the neck, that he is getting back to somewhere near the player we saw before his numerous injuries set in, that we have a guy who is going to shine. And who can begrudge him a lot of praise after some of the drubbings he’s had from the media about both on and off-field activities. Hopefully we see a another sound game tomorrow night that will require the likes of Paul Scholes to stick it in his pipe and light one up on it.

That’s pretty much it from me for this Monday. You make sure that your world is filled with goodness, which for me, usually means logging on to Arsenal.com every once in a while during the day.

Catch you tomorrow.

Mixed emotions from playing the Mancs

Do you know, normally, the day after Arsenal have played I have a better idea about how I’m feeling about the result. Sometimes it’s easy. If Arsenal play brilliantly and win by three clear goals, I can wax lyrical about the team and champion the manager for getting his team selection spot on. If they lose then it’s usually the reverse. Heck, even a draw is usually seen as a good draw or a bad draw, depending on the circumstances of the performance and the opposition.

The draw away to Everton can be seen as a decent one given the narrative of the game. Away from home we snatched two late goals and despite a poor performance we could all be satisfied that we did not pick up a defeat. Conversely, having dominated possession against a newly promoted Leicester, a draw was not really acceptable. Yet, based on all of the variables I can think of this morning, I can’t work out whether to be happy with the draw or disappointed.

the negatives
At home, against one of the top teams, for psychological purposes more than anything else at this stage in the season, you need to be picking up points. That’s what Moneychester City did against Liverpool a couple of weeks ago and that’s what I’d have hoped we could do yesterday lunchtime.

The most annoying thing about not getting that psychological advantage against what we would perceive as a rival, is that it once again raises the question about our own record against the top teams, so much so that I dare not look into it today. In terms of picking up points against Chelski, City and United, the record over the last five years or so reads like some sort of scary book from Stephen King where your own mother eats pieces of your body day-by-day because she has never really gotten over giving birth to you, so she does it to get you back inside her belly.

Until we can muster some consistency of victories against these ‘bigger teams’, the questions will continue to be raised and, given our away form last season, this is now one game less that I feel we can take advantage of to banish those particular demons of ours.

The game itself has also left me harbouring bitter feelings. Mark Clattenberg for example, despite the protestations of Manuel Pellegrini, gave about 60 to 70% of decisions to City I feel. He allowed persistent rotational fouling without booking, which only perpetuated an increased volume of fouls, one in the second half which consistent of Vincent Kompany essentially barging into the back of an Arsenal player without reprieve.

I don’t know whether or not it contributed massively to disrupting our flow, because whilst some players were excellent yesterday (I’ll come to that in the ‘positives’ section), some really did stink up the joint. Özil, Ramsey and Flamini, for example, had particularly poor games. I can’t really work out who was worse from Özil or Ramsey, but very little of what either did yesterday came off, so if you think about that as a massive chunk of our creative talent not performing, it shows that there was certainly another level we could have gone to, to win the game.

But you can only win games if you do both attacking and defending well and, if we’re all honest, we hardly mastered the defensive side yesterday. It felt like we were rolling back the years in a bad way yesterday. Every time Navas got the ball on the right hand side he looked to have the beating of Monreal and, as good as Nacho has been this season, he struggled yesterday I thought. Gibbs is a better defender and having him back in the team will certainly be a big boost for us.

On the other side of the defence Debuchy was again very good, so it feels almost inevitable with the benefit of hindsight, that he would go down with an ankle injury and now face an extended period on the side. This kind of injury has nothing to do with our medical team, but is yet another player injured, leaving us all wondering why we seem so cursed with injuries.

The goals we conceded were also pretty shabby, if we’re all honest with ourselves, born not out of excellent opposition play but by our own mistakes. As the ball stayed in play on the right hand side of the pitch, Navas’ run was countered by some Denilson-esque jogging back by Ramsey, Flamini and Koscienly to which the inevitable response was Aguero’s run to knock the ball home. It was pretty much City’s first shot and they started to grow in confidence after that. The second goal was equally poor, as Szczesny’s poor kick never reached the halfway line, only for the ball to come back towards our goal and out for a corner. How or why Demichelis was gifted the freedom of the penalty box is beyond me, but Woj hardly covered himself in glory with a limp-wristed flap at the ball. We’ve been the beneficiaries of late goals a few times already this season, but this time we were on the receiving end and I don’t like it, don’t like it one bit at all. Thereafter we seemed to wobble a bit and City could have won it on a few occasions.

The Positives
I don’t want to end today’s blog just looking at the negatives, because there was plenty for us to be pleased about as well. Going forward we look like we had options that were clearly non-existent last season. Alexis was in fine form yesterday and it was fitting that he capped off his fine performance with a fabulous goal that should have won us the game. He is busy, skilful, can finish and will be a major asset for us this season. That’s three goals already and on the basis of what I’ve seen, I reckon we’re looking at a 20 goal man come May.

Likewise too, I thought Danny Welbeck had an impressive debut. Had he managed to flick the ball into the net in first half we’d probably all be raving right now, but strikers are always judged on goals and that can be the only blot on an otherwise good performance. He even came close towards the end with a curling shot that just went over the bar, but with him and Alexis giving us that extra pace in the final third as well as being willing to chase down every ball, it can only be a good thing for us.

But to end today’s blog on a high, let’s just bask in the Wilsherian glow from yesterday, because Jack was on another level. His ball retention was good, dribbling was superb, he linked play excellently and did not deserve to be on a side that didn’t pick up three points. Big games often need players to step up and on that stage nobody can argue that Jack didn’t. His goal was a superb flick that had Hart beaten all ends up and another few performances like that in the coming weeks and the Paul Scholes’ of this world will have to start chowing down on some humble pie. More of the same please Jacky.

So like I said at the start of the blog, I have no idea whether I’m happy or sad about the game yesterday, because for all that was bad, we had the good in equal measure. Perhaps I should just stop thinking about it and look forward to the Dortmund game in midweek. A win there would be just the tonic.

Catch you tomorrow.

Can we make that final step? City preview

Well Mr Matchday, you certainly took your sweet time to arrive, didn’t you? Keeping me waiting like a disgruntled commuter at a National Rail train station wasn’t my idea of fun, but you’re here now, so let’s not bicker and just get on with the rest of our Saturday, shall we?

It’s an early one for us all today, as the fates have conspired to drag us into the horrific world of early kick offs. Look, I have no real problems with the early starts in terms of the teams ability to be ‘up for it’ (it is ridiculous to assume that our players can’t be up for early kick off games based on the travesties of last season), my issue lies purely with the fact that an early start means getting up earlier on a Saturday which is not something I’m overly enamoured with. There’s also the reduction in hours of pre-match amber nectar supping. I like a beer, but I’m not starting my day at 10am with one, so it leaves me with just about enough time for a solitary pint before heading over to the ground.

All this is just the pre-amble to the main event though, so I suppose I shouldn’t be the archetypal moaning Brit and move swiftly on to our own raison d’être, which starts at 12.45pm UK time.

There’s no doubt this is by far and away the most difficult test that The Arsenal will have faced this season. The visit of Moneychester City represents the first litmus test of whether or not we have learned from our recent poor history against any of the top four clubs of seasons past. Last season saw us fail to pick up wins against City, Chelski, Everton and even the ailing Man United, so a marker of whether or not this team has the capability to challenge the top teams will need to be placed today.

I’ve said before that from a points perspective, you can easily win the league as long as you pick up points against the teams lower down the table, which is true if you think about the maths behind the logic. Home and away wins against teams from 8th position in the league downwards gives you 72 points, which is approaching a decent points tally to have a go at the league. But to get over the line you need to have wins against the bigger players not just for those few extra points, but for the psychological boost that big game victories provide. That’s why today is important. It’s not so much about the points, but about the belief that will be instilled in the team, through taking a scalp like Moneychester City.

Arsène has a litany of options at his disposal to draw upon, which is what also makes this game exciting to blog about this morning, because until those first whispers of the team sheet come in, we have no idea who is in the squad, let alone the starting eleven. I hope Arsène opts for ‘pace, pace, pace’ and we see Welbeck flanked by The Ox and Alexis, but I suspect that Özil or Cazorla might be moved to the left, as I think Arsène wants to include both in his team selection. I’m certainly not in the camp that believes having Özil out wide is conducive to getting the best out of his game, but that appears to be where his temporary home is at the moment, so we’ll all have to accept it. I also seem to be in the minority at the moment regarding Cazorla. I actually don’t believe that the diminutive Spaniard has had the best of starts to the season, flitting in and out of games far too much (an accusation oft levelled at Özil but not his teammate), so I wouldn’t be too worried if the Ox was preferred. I love Santi as a footballer and when he is on song his game is fabulous to watch, but I just feel like he hasn’t hit the form of when he arrived and it’s a shame that we’re not seeing the Santi that we all know can change a match. Perhaps I’m being too harsh.

The midfield also has a plethora of options to choose from, so Arsène’s difficult decisions don’t just stop at the pointy end of the team, as he’ll need to work out who from Ramsey, Arteta, Wilshere, Rosicky and Flamini occupy the two midfield positions if, as expected, both Özil and Cazorla play. I suspect the decision will hinge on how recovered Rambo is from his midweek ankle roll, as I’d think the first two names from that list I’ve just reeled off, will be given priority. It will be another source of irritation for Rosicky, but Arsène isn’t going to drop his captain or last seasons player of the year, so he’ll just have to accept it.

As for our opponents, a Jovetic injury is all I believe they are suffering from, so we know that they will be at almost full strength when they line up against us. Last season they were the free-scoring champions, but I wonder if Pellegrini will be as gung-ho in a match today as his team was at times last season. At The Emirates he needed only a draw realistically to ensure that his team kept on the march to the title. Today’s game is similar in requirements for his team I suspect, i.e. do not lose, so I wonder if he’ll look to try and stay solid defensively whilst catching us on the counter attack.

City will rely on the guile of Silva and Nasri, sure for a spicy reception as always, whilst Dzeko will occupy both Per and Kos at varying times. It’s a team that has threats all over the park, but despite our less than stellar start to the season, I think the openness of today’s game will give our players the chance to express themselves more freely and occupy space that wasn’t afforded to them against Palace or Leicester.

I feel cautiously optimistic about today’s game. Let’s hope it’s not misguided optimism. A win would be a perfect catalyst for a good run against a number of difficult opponents, but I think we have the firepower now to cope with our schedule and demonstrate to the rest of the league that we’re serious title contenders.

Victories against teams like City feels like the final piece in our league title puzzle. That one final step. That’s all we’ve got to overcome.

Come on Arsenal!

Assumptions on Arsène, team photos and Welbeck’s motivation

Right, plenty to sink our teeth into this morning, so let’s get stuck in there like a Suarez.

Team photos! Don’t you just love them? They’re great for seeing who doesn’t play for the club any more in three years time. Yesterday the club had it’s team photo taken and, quite sensibly, it was done after the transfer window had slammed shut, meaning the merchandisers won’t fall foul of any Chelskiesque faux pars of featuring players that no longer play for the club beaming away in the red and white of The Arsenal.

By all accounts it looked like a happy and jovial occasion and whilst I know you can read as much into that as you can at an Arsène press conference, it’s still good to see that there appears to be enough camaraderie amongst the players. We’ve all said for some years that the group appears to be a bit more balance now the big egos of a few years ago have gone, but I see small snippets like the footage from yesterday and am comforted.

Anyway, speaking of Arsène press conferences, the wily old dog had his yesterday and finally spoke about the man of the moment Danny Welbeck. Thankfully Arsène talked up his ability in a central role and also confirmed that he was influential in the signing of said player. Of course, I don’t expect Le Boss to ask ‘who?’ when prompted on Welbeck, but it was at least pleasing to hear him speak of the new arrival and where he would fit in.

I have to join the cast and crew of those that have been a bit baffled of his statement about how the transfer happened though. In classic Wengerian, Arsène said that had he been in the country, the transfer might not have happened. Unfortunately for the manager, that has been seized upon by the press as something that is hardly a ringing endorsement, but wherever vagaries and the opportunity of a story pops up for a journo, we can hardly expect them not to manipulate.

Well I can make assumptions too, you know, so I’m going to make my own on what I thought Wenger was getting at. I suspect that what he was intimating was the fact that a normal day would have meant commitments for the club and so wouldn’t have given him so much downtime whilst waiting at the airport for the flight to depart. Think about it – how bored are you when you’re waiting for your flight? I’m not saying Arsène signed Welbeck because he was bored, but if the only thing he had to do whilst he was at the airport was keep in contact with agents and the club, he was probably pestering all parties concerned to get this over the line.

I’m afraid I don’t subscribe to the view that Arsène didn’t want Welbeck. That’s not how the club has ever been run. Let’s not forget: Arsène has Stan’s ear and if anybody were to go above his head in matters of the football team, he has the Top Trump card in the backing of the Silent One. Arsène has too much power at the club not to be a driving force behind making this transfer happen.

As for the other news, well, it all looks rather positive on the injury front doesn’t it? Arteta, Gibbs and Özil all look to be fit, as well as Ramsey who appears to have recovered from the knock he suffered in midweek international action. We’re missing a Walcott for a few more weeks, but even Diaby came through an under-21 game yesterday!

Not that we should be worried about injuries, because I think we have a strong enough squad (barring the centre halves!) to cover for the aforementioned potential absentees, but it’s great to see the manager having an almost full compliment. It means that he doesn’t just have a bit of a headache selecting the first 11, but picking the Matchday squad as a whole! Whoever he picks, there will be some quality players missing tomorrow and that can only be a good thing from an Arsenal perspective.

Actually, if I can return to the subject of Welbeck again for a minute, thanking Van Gaal for his less than complimentary commentary over the departure of Welbeck. By essentially saying that Welbeck wasn’t good enough to prove his ability to play as a central striker at United, I think he’s given Danny plenty of motivation to prove him wrong whilst at Arsenal. Hopefully he’ll show the Dutchman – yet to win a real official game as yet I hasten to add – that he has all of the attributes to be successful in the middle of the park. Hopefully the comments of the former Holland coach will give him an extra few percent of desire (not that he needs it) starting tomorrow.

It did surprise me actually when I read the slightly abrasive nature of van Gaal’s comments. It strikes me that should the decision have been reversed, Arsène would not have been so dismissive of a player that had been an integral part of winning United teams in the past. In fact, I don’t recall Arsène talking about That Dutch Bloke’s desire for ‘cash, cash, cash’ when he went the other way. I hope United don’t make top four and Welbeck bangs in the winner against them next time we meet. That’s the best way of showing van Gaal that he’s made a mistake, something that he clearly doesn’t feel, despite the growing number of people formerly associated with the club disagreeing to the contrary.

Anyway, my tube journey is coming to an end shortly, so I shall wrap up today’s wiffle-waffle (I think I just made up that word), leaving you to go about your business in the normal fashion.

Happy Friday Gooners.

Horrible hypothetical dilemma, whilst Welbeck intrigue grows

Hello hello friend. How goes it for you today? I hope well. Are you looking forward to the weekend? I know I am, that’s for sure, I just hope we all hear the clean bill of health from Arsène later today/tomorrow about injuries.

This is always a weird part of the week in that regard, because we’re close to the games and yet we have no idea what sort of worries the manager will offload on us after an international break in which he’s hardly seen any of his players. The real concern will undoubtedly be Aaron Ramsey and, despite the blasé nature of Coleman’s post match interview on Tuesday evening, I’m almost resigned to the fact that Arsène will probably tell us that Ramsey is out.

Let’s just hope that he’s the only one, although question marks remain over yesterday’s birthday boy Koscienly and Mesut Özil, so let’s just cross everything for positivity today/tomorrow.

So what else is going on in the Arsenal world today? How about some mischief making rumours that emerged yesterday that the Spuds were looking to share our stadium for the season that their stadium is being built? Quite preposterous, obviously, but I posed one of those moral dilemmas yesterday to a couple of Twitter peers in a deliberate attempt to be provocative. I asked “if a season of that lot sharing The Emirates, in return for enough cash that would but Ronaldo/Messi, would you take it?”. It’s a horrible question to have to answer, because nobody wants to see Tottenham rocking up at The Emirates unless there’s a 5-2 score line in our favour involved, but from a purely footballing perspective, it’s an interesting one.

What about you? What would you do? Take aside the fact the two clubs and fan bases wouldn’t accept it. Ignore the fact that the police would probably reject it because of the extra cover each week that would be needed. Set aside the reality that there would be a section of their ‘fans’ that are more animals than human and would probably rip up seats and ruin part of the surrounding area. Base your answer purely on footballing terms. Now what would you do?

By the way, there’s no way I’m answering my own question, before you ask! Bloggers prerogative and all that.

Gary Neville is also in the press giving United a bit of a hammering over the Welbeck sale. I must say, whilst unsure at first over the signing, the more and more that people with an affiliation to United speak out against the sale, the more I am beginning to wonder if we’ve had a bit of a touch overall. Especially given that Neville also mention the price that we have received for Welbeck. £16million for a young English player is a decent chunk of change, but at 23 he still has his best years ahead of him and could easily be worth double that in a couple of years time if he makes himself a success at The Arsenal.

There are no so many people formerly associated with United that are baffled by the signing, that each time it buoys me a little bit more, so hopefully we can see Fergie crying into his Rioja at some stage during the rest of this season.

That’s about all I have for today I’m afraid. Unfortunately the bloody iPhone has decided it won’t operate in a landscape mode as I type, so my thumbs are rebelling and starting to get a little bit niggle, which means they will have to face a late fitness test to be ready for tomorrow.

Arrivederci brothers and sisters.

The evolution of Jack (but maybe not this weekend)

Halfway through the week and we close down on the international break, casting our attention (thankfully) to the Premier League once again, as well as the build up to a massive game at The Emirates against Moneychester City.

Of course, none of us really believed that our squad was capable of going through an international group of matches without somebody important picking up a knock, did we? So it was that Aaron Ramsey limped off against Andorra during Wales’ pointless group stage game against a team that looked more reminiscent of the Vatican Swiss Guard than a football team. I’m sure David Seaman once wore an England jersey that looked like a rainbow had been regurgitated onto his shirt that looked a little like that travesty.

I didn’t watch the game, but have seen some of the still images of the incident and despite what Chris Coleman said about him being ok for the weekend, you can’t help but think that Arsenal are in a better position to judge when Rambo reports back today or tomorrow with them. It feels like it’s almost built in as part of their remit as international managers when players come back to The Arsenal broken and battered around the edges, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Coleman is downplaying a knock that could see Ramsey out of this weekend’s clash. And to be honest, if there’s any element of doubt, we need to be playing caution with players that have picked up knocks, because over the next three weeks we play a host of football matches (six or seven I seem to remember seeing) so we should not be risking players.

If Rambo isn’t risked, it will be interesting to see Jack once again step into that box-to-box role that Aaron has made his own, which will be a continuum of the position that Wilshere occupied (to a degree of success I feel) in the Besiktas game. There’s no doubt that a loss of Ramsey will be a big blow, but when you have players with the quality of Wilshere able to step in and deputise, it doesn’t fill me with the same fears as a couple of injuries to the centre halves would.

It’s perhaps also ironic that Jack, having played as a deeper lying midfielder for England on Monday, will be moved back to a more familiar midfield position if Ramsey doesn’t pass any impending fitness tests. Having spent most of the Switzerland after glow of the match talking about an adapted deeper role, going on to highlight players like Pirlo who he will start to watch videos of over the next month or so, you wonder if both Roy and Arsène have already spoken to him about changing his position in midfield.

Perhaps he is looking at his place for both club and country and seeing his options limited, or perhaps he genuinely sees himself as somebody who can improve and nail down that slot as a holding midfielder, I’m not sure. I’m reluctant to use the words ‘defensive midfielder’ because that’s not what I think he’ll ever be. Sure, he likes a tackle and sure, it’s not the most difficult position to adapt to. You just really need to have discipline and not mind the dirty parts of the game like mopping up after defenders or breaking down impending attacks. But to me that would be a waste of Jack’s talent. He’s a player that can travel with the ball, is good at quick interchanges of pace and passing and that works well in right spaces with opponents who sit deep and defend in numbers. So to give him a position as ball winner and then quickly distributing to some of the more creative talents I think would be a bit pointless.

Or perhaps Arsène is looking at a bit more fluidity in midfield, looking to mix it up a bit, asking the question “do we really need a defensive midfielder?”. When I say that, I don’t mean that there should be no cover or protection for the back four, but rather that the team should be more fluid in the roles it has in midfield. If Jack is pushing forward, for example, why should not one of the other players adapt to become the ball winner and distributor whilst he is pushing forward? Or vice versa if Ramsey is in the opposition box. Perhaps Arsène is looking for players that Championship Manager used to call the ‘complete midfielder’. A 27 year old Mikel Arteta with the ability to sit, whilst also good enough on the ball to push forward, would be a prime example of the type of player that Jack could become. Perhaps, after all of the pontificating, it is actually Jack who is being groomed as the heir apparent for that role?

Who knows. But what I do know is that the next year or two is massively important for Wilshere. He needs to nail down his place in the team and make sure that he can be as flexible and adaptable when called upon as Wenger needs him to be.

Haven’t really looked at what else is going on in The Arsenal world at the moment, but maybe we’ll get a soundbite from Arsène about Danny Welbeck.

Hope it isn’t the media microphones catching him in training at London Colney saying “shouldn’t you be back at Carrington? I thought England training was over?”

Catch you tomorrow.